Leadership, Stress and Depression

How is it possible that an organisation could not know about its own leader/s struggling with depression? Or perhaps another struggling with aggression? We only have to look at the news to see examples of this behaviour which has placed the spotlight on topics like; depression, mental health and stress at work. The BBC news yesterday reported that 1 in 4 people in the UK suffer from mental health issues. These subjects are ‘socially unacceptable’ in most organisations today and this is concerning.

 
Author: Vicki Townsley Published: 12 May, 2015

For many years now I’ve listened to leaders struggle with change and uncertainty. It’s constant, complex and challenges every human being at some point. Even  executives can feel insecure when change threatens their financial, emotional or even spiritual wellbeing.

During 1:1 coaching sessions many ‘high achievers’ (leaders and executives) have shared personal dilemmas that they were struggling with. I have listed some examples below.

  • Low self esteem
  • Poor work-life balance
  • Lack of confidence
  • Broken/damaged relationships
  • Overeating
  • Alcohol and drug dependency
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Health problems (linked to stress) ; depression, heart conditions, anxiety

At the same time these leaders were delivering exceptional results at work. These situations illustrate how a person can put on a ‘front’ at work as a ‘high achiever’ whilst at the same time be suffering inside and coping in ways that are unhealthy. This can have many negative consequences over time linked to health and to corporate culture and performance.

How a leader behaves has a direct impact on the way people do things at work.

This belief that we need to separate the human experience from corporate reality is becoming an increasing concern when more and more is expected of leaders and emotional resilience is key to navigating the changes they face.

It’s also very sad that in many work environment’s it is considered ‘weak’ or ‘inappropriate’ to talk about emotions, fears and personal struggles that so often go hand in hand with these changes. This is especially true for senior leaders who are expected to ‘keep it together’ when they are human too.

Most people follow the expected code of behaviour to cope at work and in most cases the code is defensive.

Here are some common leadership ‘norms’ we’ve encountered in organisations:

  • If you don’t achieve this result, you’ll lose your bonus
  • If you make a mistake, you’ll be told off, reprimanded or made an ‘example of’
  • Anything less than 100% is unacceptable
  • If you tell me what I want to hear, you’ll be rewarded
  • If you challenge or question you’ll be perceived as a trouble maker or ‘resistant to change’
  • If you speak up about your fears or insecurities you’ll be judged as ‘weak’ or ‘emotional’

These dynamics suffocate people. When any human being, feels pressure to conform to team pressure or defensive leadership styles they too become defensive. They will not be authentic and will consequently be unhappy and less productive at work. This feeling of not being true to yourself, trying to be something others want you to be creates stress. Stress can be internalized as passive defensive behavior or externalized as aggressive defensive behavior. Both coping strategies can manifest in the health conditions listed above.

At Ethical Quest we offer a safe and authentic leadership development experience where leaders can be open and honest about where these ‘defensive behaviours’ may manifest in their own lives and then we help them to learn more constructive ways to address the challenges they face.

We strongly believe that the more people can open up and be authentic about what threatens them, the more we can cut through the noise and get to the heart of what’s blocking a person from reaching their full potential. This kind of change is sustainable and supports a person for life. This also delivers results.

There are leaders out there who are mastering this approach every day - and it is a daily exercise. No one is perfect and everyone is human.

It’s time to integrate the human experience into corporate reality. The more we can do this, the more we can humanize corporate culture and help each other to be the best we can be.

The list goes on.

These dynamics suffocate people. When any human being, feels pressure to conform to team pressure or defensive leadership styles they too become defensive. They will not be authentic and will consequently be unhappy and less productive at work. This feeling of not being true to yourself, trying to be something others want you to be creates stress. Stress can be internalized as passive defensive behavior or externalized as aggressive defensive behavior. Both coping strategies can manifest in the health conditions listed above.

At Ethical Quest we offer a safe and authentic leadership development experience where leaders can be open and honest about where these ‘defensive behaviours’ may manifest in their own lives and then we help them to learn more constructive ways to address the challenges they face.

We strongly believe that the more people can open up and be authentic about what threatens them, the more we can cut through the noise and get to the heart of what’s blocking a person from reaching their full potential. This kind of change is sustainable and supports a person for life. This also delivers results.

There are leaders out there who are mastering this approach every day - and it is a daily exercise. No one is perfect and everyone is human.

It’s time to integrate the human experience into corporate reality. The more we can do this, the more we can humanize corporate culture and help each other to be the best we can be.



leadership, depression